A few of our recent patterns use brioche knitting techniques to create a lofty, reversible, ribbed fabric that's oh-so-squishy. Brioche may look complicated, but it's actually quite simple - all you have to do is slip stitches to create yarnovers in one row that are then knit together with stitches in the following rows.
Many patterns use two colours of yarn, which can be easier when you’re first starting out, but you can also knit 1-colour brioche as well. From our recent Impressionist Collection, Katrin Schubert's Simultaneuous Contrast Cowl is a beautiful example of 2-colour brioche:
Brioche has its own language so we’re going to first define a few abbreviations and terms:
Sl1yostands for slip 1, yarnover, and it is a stitch you’ll be using on every row. You’ll need to slip the next stitch from your left needle to your right needle, while simultaneously wrapping the yarn around your needle from front to back. This slipped stitch and its corresponding yarnover will be treated as 1 stitch in the subsequent row.
Brkstands for brioche knit, and you’ll sometimes hear it referred to as the “bark stitch.” When you see a brk stitch, you will be knitting the next stitch together with its corresponding yarnover that was created on the previous row.
Brpstands for brioche purl, and you’ll sometimes hear it referred to as the “burp stitch.” When you see a brp stitch, you will be purpling the next stitch together with its corresponding yarnover that was created on the previous row.
When working 2-color brioche, each row is actually knittwice: once with Colour 1, and once with the Colour 2 - so for each 2 rows of knitting, you are actually knitting4 rows.
Essentially, each side of your piece will have a colour that is dominant on it. If we’re talking about Colour 1, a light colour, and Colour 2, a dark colour, let’s say that the Right Side of your work will have Colour 1 as the dominant colour and the Wrong Side of your work will have Colour 2 as the dominant colour.
On each Right Side row, you will first knit and slip stitches across in Colour 1. Then, without turning your work, you will slide the stitches back to the beginning of the row you just worked and you will purl and slip stitches across in Colour 2. You have now completed the first, Colour 1 dominant side of your brioche.
On each Wrong Side row, you will first purl and slip stitches across the row with your Colour 1. Then, without turning your work, you will slide the stitches back to the beginning of the row you just worked and you will knit and slip stitches across with your Colour 2. You have now completed the second, Colour 2 dominant side of your brioche.
Now that we have defined the terms, and talked about the order in which the rows are knit, we hope you’ll begin to understand what the following rows signify:
Row 1 (RS/Colour 1): *Sl1yo, brk; repeat from * to end.
Row 2 (RS/Colour 2): *Brp, sl1yo; repeat from * to end.
Row 3 (WS/Colour 1): *Brp, sl1yo; repeat from * to end.
Row 4 (WS/Colour 2): *Slyo, brk; repeat from * to end.
You may see patterns written slightly differently, or using slightly different abbreviations, but these are the basic stitches that make up all brioche patterns.
This video tutorial with Staci Perry of Very Pink Knits will walk you through these special stitches step-by-step so that you can become a brioche knitting expert:
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